Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

The Story of the Mormons: From the Date of their Origin to the Year 1901 by William Alexander Linn

Part 7 out of 15

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

the constitution and the laws, and that, as these made no
distinction between citizens of different religious creeds, he
should make none. He repeated an opinion which he had given Smith
in Washington that the Mormon case against the state of Missouri
did not come within the jurisdiction of the federal government.

These replies excited Smith to wrath and he answered them at
length, and in language characteristic of himself. A single
quotation from his letter to Clay (dated May 13, 1844) will

"In your answer to my question, last fall, that peculiar trait of
the modern politician, declaring 'if you ever enter into that
high office, you must go into it unfettered, with no guarantees
but such as are to be drawn from your whole life, character and
conduct,' so much resembles a lottery vender's sign, with the
goddess of good luck sitting on the car of fortune, astraddle of
the horn of plenty, and driving the merry steeds of beatitude,
without reins or bridle, that I cannot help exclaiming, 'O, frail
man, what have you done that will exalt you? Can anything be
drawn from your LIFE, CHARACTER OR CONDUCT that is worthy of
being held up to the gaze of this nation as a model of VIRTUE,
CHARACTER AND WISDOM?'. . . 'Your whole life, character and
conduct' have been spotted with deeds that causes a blush upon
the face of a virtuous patriot; so you must be contented with
your lot, while crime, cowardice, cupidity or low cunning have
handed you down from the high tower of a statesman to the black
hole of a gambler . . . . Crape the heavens with weeds of woe;
gird the earth with sackcloth, and let hell mutter one melody in
commemoration of fallen splendor! For the glory of America has
departed, and God will set a flaming sword to guard the tree of
liberty, while such mint-tithing Herods as Van Buren, Boggs,
Benton, Calhoun, and Clay are thrust out of the realms of virtue
as fit subjects for the kingdom of fallen greatness--vox reprobi,
vox Diaboli."

Calhoun was admonished to read the eighth section of article one
of the federal constitution, after which "God, who cooled the
heat of a Nebuchadnezzar's furnace, or shut the mouths of lions
for the honor of a Daniel, will raise your mind above the narrow
notion that the general government has no power, to the sublime
idea that Congress, with the President as executor, is as
almighty in its sphere as Jehovah is in his." 1

*For this correspondence in full, see Times and Seasons, January
1, and June 1, 1844, or Mackay's "The Mormons," p. 143.

Smith's next step was to have judge Phelps read to a public
meeting in Nauvoo on February 7, 1844, a very long address by the
prophet, setting forth his views on national politics.* He
declared that "no honest man can doubt for a moment but the glory
of American liberty is on the wane, and that calamity and
confusion will sooner or later destroy the peace of the people,"
while "the motto hangs on the nation's escutcheon, `every man has
his price.'"

* For its text, see Times and Seasons, May 15,1844, or Mackay's
"The Mormons," p.133.

Smith proposed an abundance of remedies for these evils: Reduce
the members of Congress at least one-half; pay them $2 a day and
board; petition the legislature to pardon every convict, and make
the punishment for any felony working on the roads or some other
place where the culprit can be taught wisdom and virtue, murder
alone to be cause for confinement or death; petition for the
abolition of slavery by the year 1850, the slaves to be paid for
out of the surplus from the sale of public lands, and the money
saved by reducing the pay of Congress; establish a national bank,
with branches in every state and territory, "whose officers shall
be elected yearly by the people, with wages of $2 a day for
services," the currency to be limited to "the amount of capital
stock in her vaults, and interest"; "and the bills shall be par
throughout the nation, which will mercifully cure that fatal
disorder known in cities as brokery, and leave the people's money
in their own pockets"; give the President full power to send an
army to suppress mobs; "send every lawyer, as soon as he repents
and obeys the ordinances of heaven, to preach the Gospel to the
destitute, without purse or scrip"; "spread the federal
jurisdiction to the west sea, when the red men give their
consent"; and give the right hand of fellowship to Texas, Canada,
and Mexico. He closed with this declaration: "I would, as the
universal friend of man, open the prisons, open the eyes, open
the ears, and open the hearts of all people to behold and enjoy
freedom, unadulterated freedom; and God, who once cleansed the
violence of the earth with a flood, whose Son laid down his life
for the salvation of all his father gave him out of the world,
and who has promised that he will come and purify the world again
with fire in the last days, should be supplicated by me for the
good of all people. With the highest esteem, I am a friend of
virtue and of the people."

It seems almost incomprehensible that the promulgator of such
political views should have taken himself seriously. But Smith
was in deadly earnest, and not only was he satisfied of his
political power, but, in the church conference of 1844, he
declared, "I feel that I am in more immediate communication with
God, and on a better footing with Him, than I have ever been in
my life."

The announcement of Smith's political "principles" was followed
immediately by an article in the Times and Seasons, which
answered the question, "Whom shall the Mormons support for
President?" with the reply, "General Joseph Smith. A man of
sterling worth and integrity, and of enlarged views; a man who
has raised himself from the humblest walks in life to stand at
the head of a large, intelligent, respectable, and increasing
society; . . . and whose experience has rendered him every way
adequate to the onerous duty." The formal announcement that Smith
was the Mormon candidate was made in the Times and Seasons of
February 15, 1844, and the ticket--



Nauvoo, Illinois.

was kept at the head of its editorial page from March 1, until
his death.

A weekly newspaper called the Wasp, issued at Nauvoo under Mormon
editorship, had been succeeded by a larger one called the
Neighbor, edited by John Taylor (afterward President of the
church), who also had charge of the Times and Seasons. The
Neighbor likewise placed Smith's name, as the presidential
candidate, at the head of its columns, and on March 6 completed
its ticket with "General James A. Bennett of New York, for
Vice-President."* Three weeks later Bennett's name was taken
down, and on June 19, Sidney Rigdon's was substituted for it.
There was nothing modest in the Mormon political ambition.

* This General Bennett was not the first mayor of Nauvoo, as some
writers like Smucker have supposed, but a lawyer who gave his
address as "Arlington House," on Long Island, New York, and who
in 1843 had offered himself to Smith as "a most undeviating
friend," etc.

Proof of Smith's serious view of his candidacy is furnished in
his next step, which was to send out a large body of missionaries
(two or three thousand, according to Governor Ford) to work-up
his campaign in the Eastern and Southern states. These emissaries
were selected from among the ablest of Smith's allies, including
Brigham Young, Lorenzo Snow, and John D. Lee. Their absence from
Nauvoo was a great misfortune to Smith at the time of his
subsequent arrest and imprisonment at Carthage.

The campaigners began work at once. Lorenzo Snow, to whom the
state of Ohio was allotted, went to Kirtland, where he had
several thousand pamphlets printed, setting forth the prophet's
views and plans, and he then travelled around in a buggy,
distributing the pamphlets and making addresses in Smith's
behalf. "To many persons," he confesses, "who knew nothing of
Joseph but through the ludicrous reports in circulation, the
movement seemed a species of insanity."* John D. Lee was a most
devout Mormon, but his judgment revolted against this movement.
"I would a thousand times rather have been shut up in jail," he
says. He began his canvassing while on the boat bound for, St.
Louis. "I told them," he relates, "the prophet would lead both
candidates. There was a large crowd on the boat, and an election
was proposed. The prophet received a majority of 75 out of 125
votes polled. This created a tremendous laugh."**

* "Biography of Lorenzo Snow."

** "Mormonism Unveiled," p.149.

We have an account of one state convention called to consider
Smith's candidacy, and this was held in the Melodeon in Boston,
Massachusetts, on July 1, 1844, the news of Smith's death not yet
having reached that city. A party of young rowdies practically
took possession of the hall as soon as the business of the
convention began, and so disturbed the proceedings that the
police were sent for, and they were able to clear the galleries
only after a determined fight. The convention then adjourned to
Bunker Hill, but nothing further is heard of its proceedings. The
press of the city condemned the action of the disturbers as a
disgrace. Mention is made in the Times and Seasons of July 1,
1844, of a conference of elders held in Dresden, Tennessee, on
the 25th of May previous, at which Smith's name was presented as
a presidential candidate. The meeting was broken up by a mob,
which the sheriff confessed himself powerless to overcome, but it
met later and voted to print three thousand copies of Smith's

The prophet's death, which occurred so soon after the
announcement of his candidacy, rendered it impossible to learn
how serious a cause of political disturbance that candidacy might
have been in neighborhoods where the Mormons had a following.

CHAPTER VII. Social Conditions In Nauvoo

Having followed Smith's political operations to their close, it
is now necessary to retrace our steps, and examine the social
conditions which prevailed in and around Nauvoo during the years
of his reign--conditions which had quite as much to do in causing
the expulsion of the Mormons from the state as did his political

It must be remembered that Nauvoo was a pioneer town, on the
borders of a thinly settled country. Its population and that of
its suburbs consisted of the refugees from Missouri, of whose
character we have had proof ; of the converts brought in from the
Eastern states and from Europe, not a very intelligent body; and
of those pioneer settlers, without sympathy with the Mormon
beliefs, who were attracted to the place from various motives.
While active work was continued by the missionaries throughout
the United States, their labors in this country seem to have been
more efficient in establishing local congregations than in
securing large additions to the population of Nauvoo, although
some "branches" moved bodily to the Mormon centre.*

* Lee's "Mormonism Unveiled;" p. 135.

Of the class of people reached by the early missionaries in
England we have this description, in a letter from Orson Hyde to
his wife, dated September 14,1837:-- "Those who have been
baptized are mostly manufacturers and some other mechanics. They
know how to do but little else than to spin and weave cloth, and
make cambric, mull and lace; and what they would do in Kirtland
or the city of Far West, I cannot say. They are extremely poor,
most of them not having a change of clothes decent to be baptized

* Elders' Journal, Vol. I, No. 2.

In a letter of instructions from Smith to the travelling elders
in Great Britain, dated October, 1840, he warned them that the
gathering of the Saints must be "attended to in the order that
the Lord intends it should"; and he explains that, as "great
numbers of the Saints in England are extremely poor, . . . to
prevent confusion and disappointment when they arrive here, let
those men who are accustomed to making machinery, and those who
can command a capital, though it be small, come here as soon as
convenient and put up machinery, and make such other preparations
as may be necessary, so that when the poor come on they may have
employment to come to."

The invitation to all converts having means was so urgent that it
took the form of a command. A letter to the Saints abroad, signed
by Joseph and Hyrum Smith, dated January 15, 1841, directed those
"blessed of heaven with the possession of this world's goods" to
sell out as soon as possible and move to Nauvoo, adding in
italics: "This is agreeable to the order of heaven, and the only
principal (sic) on which the gathering can be effected."*

* The following is a quotation from a letter written by an
American living near Nauvoo, dated October 20, 1842, printed in
the postscript to Caswall's "The City of the Mormons":--

"If an English Mormon arrives, the first effort of Joe is to get
his money. This in most cases is easily accomplished, under a
pledge that he can have it at any time on giving ten days'
notice. The man after some time calls for his money; he is
treated kindly, and told that it is not convenient to pay. He
calls a second time; the Prophet cannot pay, but offers a town
lot in Nauvoo for $1000 (which cost perhaps as many cents), or
land on the 'half-breed tract' at $10 or $15 per acre . . . .
Finally some of the irresponsible Bishops or Elders execute a
deed for land to which they have no valid title, and the poor
fellow dares not complain. This is the history of hundreds of
cases . . . . The history of every dupe reaches Nauvoo in
advance. When an Elder abroad wins one over to the faith, he
makes himself perfectly acquainted with all his family
arrangements, his standing in society, his ability, and (what is
of most importance) the amount of ready money and other property
which he will take to Nauvoo . . . . They make no converts in
Nauvoo, and it appears to me that they would never make another
if all could witness their conduct at Nauvoo for one month . . .
. In regard to this communication, I prefer, on account of my own
safety, that you should not make known the author publicly. You
cannot appreciate these fears [in England]. You have no idea what
it is to be surrounded by a community of Mormons, guided by a
leader the most unprincipled."
We have seen how hard-pressed Smith was for money with which to
meet his obligations for the payment of land purchased. It was
not necessary that a newcomer should be a Mormon in order to buy
a lot, special emphasis being laid on the freedom of religious
opinion in the city; but it was early made known that purchasers
were expected to buy their lots of the church, and not of private
speculators. The determination with which this rule was enforced,
as well as its unpopularity in some quarters, may be seen in the
following extract from Smith's autobiography, under date of
February 13, 1843: "I spent the evening at Elder O. Hyde's. In
the course of conversation I remarked that those brethren who
came here having money, and purchased without the church and
without counsel, must be cut off. This, with other observations,
aroused the feelings of Brother Dixon, from Salem, Mass., and he
appeared in great wrath."

The Nauvoo Neighbor of December 27, 1843, contained an
advertisement signed by the clerk of the church, calling the
attention of immigrants to the church lands, and saying, "Let all
the brethren, therefore, when they move into Nauvoo, consult
President Joseph Smith, the trustee in trust, and purchase their
land from him, and I am bold to say that God will bless them, and
they will hereafter be glad they did so."

A good many immigrants of more or less means took warning as soon
as they discovered the conditions prevailing there, and returned
home. A letter on this subject from the officers of the church

"We have seen so many who have been disappointed and discouraged
when they visited this place, that we would have imagined they
had never been instructed in the things pertaining to the Kingdom
of God, and thought that, instead of coming into a society of men
and women, subject to all the frailties of mortality, they were
about to enjoy the society of the spirits of just men made
perfect, the holy angels, and that this place should be as pure
as the third heaven. But when they found that this people were
but flesh and blood . . . they have been desirous to choose them
a captain to lead them back."

The additions to the Mormon population from the settlers whom
they found in the outlying country in Illinois and Iowa were not
likely to be of a desirable class. The banks of the Mississippi
River had long been hiding-places for pirate bands, whose
exploits were notorious, and the "half-breed tract" was a known
place of refuge for the horse thief, the counterfeiter, and the
desperado of any calling. The settlement of the Mormons in such a
region, with an invitation to the world at large to join them and
be saved, was a piece of good luck for this lawless class, who
found a covering cloak in the new baptism, and a shield in the
fidelity with which the Mormon authorities, under their charter,
defended their flock. In this way Nauvoo became a great
receptacle for stolen goods, and the river banks up and down the
stream concealed many more, the takers of which walked boldly
through the streets of the Mormon city. The retaliatory measures
which Smith encouraged his followers to practise on their
neighbors in Missouri had inculcated a disregard for the property
rights of non-Mormons, which became an inciting cause of
hostilities with their neighbors in Illinois.

The complaints of thefts by Mormons became so frequent that the
church authorities deemed it necessary to recognize and rebuke
the practice. Lee quotes from an address by Smith at the
conference of April, 1840, in Nauvoo, in which the prophet said:
"We are no longer at war, and you must stop stealing. When the
right time comes, we will go in force and take the whole state of
Missouri. It belongs to us as our inheritance; but I want no more
petty stealing. A man that will steal petty articles from his
enemies will, when occasion offers, steal from his brethren too.
Now I command you that have stolen must steal no more."*

* Lee's "Mormonism Unveiled;" p. 111.

The case of Elder O. Walker bears on this subject. On October 11,
1840, he was brought before a High Council and accused of
discourtesy to the prophet, and "suggesting (at different places)
that in the church at Nauvoo there did exist a set of pilferers
who were actually thieving, robbing and plundering, taking and
unlawfully carrying away from Missouri certain goods and
chattels, wares and property; and that the act and acts of such
supposed thieving, etc., was fostered and conducted by the
knowledge and approval of the heads and leaders of the church,
viz., by the Presidency and High Council."*

* Millennial Star, Vol. XVIII, p. 185.

The action of the church authorities themselves shows how serious
they considered the reports about thieving. As early as December
1, 1841, Hyrum Smith, then one of the First Presidency, published
in the Times and Seasons an affidavit denying that the heads of
the church "sanction and approbate the members of said church in
stealing property from those persons who do not belong to said
church," etc. This was followed by a long denial of a similar
character, signed by the Twelve, and later by an affidavit by the
prophet himself, denying that he ever "directly or indirectly
encouraged the purloining of property, or taught the doctrine of
stealing." On March 25, 1843, Smith, as mayor, issued a
proclamation beginning with the declaration, "I have not altered
my views on the subject of stealing," reciting rumors of a secret
band of desperadoes bound by oath to self-protection, and
pledging pardon to any one who would give him any information
about "such abominable characters." This exhibition of the heads
of a church solemnly protesting that they were opposed to
thieving is unique in religious history.

The Patriarch, Hyrum Smith, made an announcement to the
conference of 1843, which further confirms the charges of
organized thieving made by the non-mormons. While denouncing the
thieves as hypocrites, he said he had learned of the existence of
a band held together by secret oaths and penalties, "who hold it
right to steal from anyone who does not belong to the church,
provided they consecrate one-third of it to the building of the
Temple. They are also making bogus money . . . . The man who told
me this said, 'This secret band referred to the Bible, Book of
Doctrine and Covenants, and Book of Mormon to substantiate their
doctrines; and if any of them did not remain steadfast, they
ripped open their bowels and gave them to the catfish.'" He named
two men, inmates of his own house, who, he had discovered, were
such thieves. The prophet followed this statement with some
remarks, declaring, "Thieving must be stopped."*

* Millennial Star, Vol. XX, pp. 757-758.

The Rev. Henry Caswall, in a description of a Sunday service in
Nauvoo in April, 1842 "City of the Mormons," p. 15) says:--

"The elder who had delivered the first discourse now rose and
said a certain brother whom he named had taken a keg of white
lead. 'Now,' said he, 'if any of the brethren present has taken
it by mistake, thinking it was his own, he ought to restore it;
but if any of the brethren present have stolen a keg, much more
ought he to restore it, or else maybe he will get catched.' . . .
Another person rose and stated that he had lost a ten dollar
bill. If any of the brethren had found it or taken it, he hoped
it would be restored." This introduction of calls for the
restoration of stolen property as a feature of a Sunday church
service is probably unique with the Mormons.

That the Mormons did not do all the thieving in the counties
around Nauvoo while they were there would be sufficiently proved
by the character of many of the persons whom they found there on
their arrival, and also by the fact that their expulsion did not
make those counties a paradise.* The trouble with them was that,
as soon as a man joined them, no matter what his previous
character might have been, they gave him that protection which
came with their system of "standing together." An early and
significant proof of this protection is found in the action of
the conference held in Nauvoo on October 3, 1840, two months
before the charter had given the city government its extended
powers, which voted that "no person be considered guilty of crime
unless proved by the testimony of two or three witnesses."**

* "Long afterward, while the writer was travelling through
Hancock, Pike and Adams Counties, no family thought of retiring
at night without barring and doublelocking every
ingress."--Beadle, "Life in Utah," p. 65.

** Millennial Star, Vol. XVIII, p. 153.

It became notorious in all the country round that it was
practically useless for a non-Mormon to attempt the recovery of
stolen property in Nauvoo, no matter how strong the proof in his
possession might be. S. J. Clarke* says that a great deal of
stolen stock was traced into Nauvoo, but that, "when found, it
was extremely difficult to gain possession of it." He cites as an
illustration the case of a resident of that county who traced a
stolen horse into Nauvoo, and took with him sixty witnesses to
identify the animal before a Mormon justice of the peace. He
found himself, however, confronted with seventy witnesses who
swore that the horse belonged to some Mormon, and the justice
decided that the "weight of evidence," numerically calculated,
was against the non-Mormon.

* "History of McDonough County," p. 83.

A form of protection against outside inquirers for property,
which is well authenticated, was given by what were known as
"whittlers." When a non-Mormon came into the city, and by his
questions let it be known that he was looking for something
stolen, he would soon find himself approached by a Mormon who
carried a long knife and a stick, and who would follow him,
silently whittling. Soon a companion would join this whittler,
and then another, until the stranger would find himself fairly
surrounded by these armed but silent observers. Unless he was a
man of more than ordinary grit, an hour or more of this
companionship would convince him that it would be well for him to
start for home.*

* Lee's "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 168.

CHAPTER VIII. Smith's Picture Of Himself As Autocrat

Smith's autobiography gives incidentally many interesting
glimpses of the prophet as he exercised his authority of dictator
during the height of his power at Nauvoo. It is fortunate for the
impartial student that these records are at his disposal, because
many of the statements, if made on any other authority, would be
met by the customary Mormon denials, and be considered generally

That Smith's life, aside from the constant danger of extradition
which the Missouri authorities held over him, was not an easy one
at this time may readily be imagined. He had his position to
maintain as sole oracle of the church. He was also mayor, judge,
councillor, and lieutenant-general. There were individual
jealousies to be disposed of among his associates, rivalries of
different parts of the city over wished-for improvements to be
considered, demands of the sellers of church lands for payment to
be met, and the claims of politicians to be attended to. But
Smith rarely showed any indication of compromise, apparently
convinced that his position at all points was now more secure
than it had ever been.

The big building enterprises in which the church was engaged were
a heavy tax on the people, and constant urging was necessary to
keep them up to the requirements. Thus we find an advertisement
in the Wasp dated June 25, 1842, and signed by the "Temple
Recorder," saying, "Brethren, remember that your contracts with
your God are sacred; the labor is wanted immediately." Smith
referred to the discontent of the laborers, and to some other
matters, in a sermon on February 21, 1843. The following
quotations are from his own report of it. "If any man working on
the Nauvoo House is hungry, let him come to me and I will feed
him at my table . . . and then if the man is not satisfied I will
kick his backside . . . . This meeting was got up by the Nauvoo
House committee. The Pagans, Roman Catholics, Methodists and
Baptists shall have place in Nauvoo --only they must be ground in
Joe Smith's mill. I have been in their mill . . . and those who
come here must go through my smut machine, and that is my
tongue."* The difficulty of carrying on these building
enterprises at this time was increased by the financial
disturbance that was convulsing the whole country. It was in
these years that Congress was wrestling with the questions of the
deposits of the public funds, the United States Bank, the
subtreasury scheme, and the falling off of customs and land-sale
revenues, with a threatened deficit in the federal treasury. The
break-down of the Bank of the United States caused a general
failure of the banks of the Western and Southern states, and
money was so scarce at Nauvoo that one Mormon writer records the
fact that "when corn was brought to my door at ten cents a
bushel, and sadly needed, the money could not be raised."

* Millennial Star, Vol. XX, p. 583.

The relations between Smith and Rigdon had been strained ever
since the departure of the Mormons from Missouri. The trouble
between them was finally brought before a special conference at
Nauvoo, on October 7, 1843, at which Smith stated that he had
received no material benefits from Rigdon's labors or counsel
since they had left Missouri. He presented complaints against
Rigdon's management of the post-office, brought up a charge that
Rigdon had been in correspondence with General Bennett and
Governor Carlin, and offered "indirect testimony" that Rigdon had
given the Missourians information of Smith's whereabouts at the
time of his last arrest. Rigdon met these accusations, some with
denials and some with explanations, closing with a pitiful appeal
to the all-powerful head of the church, whose nod would decide
the verdict, reciting their long associations and sufferings, and
signifying his willingness to resign his position as councillor
to the First Presidency, but not concealing the pain and
humiliation that such a step would cause him. Smith became
magnanimous. "He expressed entire willingness to have Elder
Rigdon retain his station, provided he would magnify his office,
and walk and conduct himself in all honesty, righteousness and
integrity; but signified his lack of confidence in his integrity
and steadfastness."* This incident once more furnishes proof of
some great power which Smith held over Rigdon that induced the
latter to associate with the prophet on these terms.

* Times and Seasons, Vol. IV, p. 330. H. C. Kimball stated
afterward at Rigdon's church trial that Smith did not accept him
as an adviser after this, but took Amasa Lyman in his place, and
that it was Hyrum Smith who induced his brother to show some
apparent magnanimity.

Smith's creditors finally pressed him so hard that he attempted
to secure aid from the bankruptcy act. In this he did not
succeed,* and he was very bitter in his denunciation of the law
because it was interpreted against him. It was about this time
that Smith, replying to reports of his wealth, declared that his
assets consisted of one old horse, two pet deer, ten turkeys, an
old cow, one old dog, a wife and child, and a little household
furniture. On March 1, 1843, the Council of the Twelve wrote to
the outlying branches of the church, calling on them "to bring to
our President as many loads of wheat, corn, beef, pork, lard,
tallow, eggs, poultry, venison, and everything eatable, at your
command," in order that he might be relieved of business cares
and have time to attend to their spiritual interests. It was
characteristic of Smith to find him, at a conference held the
following month, lecturing the Twelve on their own idleness,
telling them it was not necessary for them to be abroad all the
time preaching and gathering funds, but that they should spend a
part of their time at home earning a living.

* See chapter on this subject in Bennett's "History of the

At this same conference Smith was compelled to go into the
details of a transaction which showed of how little practical use
to him were his divining and prophetic powers. A man named Remick
had come to him the previous summer and succeeded in getting from
him a loan of $200 by misrepresentation. Afterward Remick offered
to give him a quit-claim deed for all the land bought of Galland,
as well as the notes which Smith had given to Galland, and
one-half of all the land that Remick owned in Illinois and Iowa,
if Smith would use his influence to build up the city of Keokuk,
Iowa. Smith actually agreed to this in writing. At the conference
he had to explain this whole affair. After alleging that Remick
was a swindler, he said: "I am not so much of a 'Christian' as
many suppose I am. When a man undertakes to ride me for a horse I
feel disposed to kick up, and throw him off and ride him. David
did so, and so did Joshua." *

* Millennial Star, Vol. XX, pp. 758-759.

The old Kirtland business troubles came up to annoy Smith from
time to time, but he always found a way to meet them. While his
writ of habeas corpus was under argument out of the city in 1841,
a man presented to him a five-dollar bill of the Kirtland Bank,
and threatened to sue him on it. As the easiest way to dispose of
this matter, Smith handed the man $5.

Smith's Ohio experience did not lessen his estimation of himself
as an authority on finance. We find him, at the meeting of the
Nauvoo City Council on February 25, 1843, denouncing the state
law of Illinois making property a legal tender for the payment of
debts; asserting that their city charter gave them authority to
enact such local currency laws as did not conflict with the
federal and state constitutions, and continuing:--

"Shall we be such fools as to be governed by their [Illinois]
laws which are unconstitutional? No. We will make a law for gold
and silver; then their law ceases, and we can collect our debts.
Powers not delegated to the states, or reserved from the states,
are constitutional. The constitution acknowledges that the people
have all power not reserved to itself. I am a lawyer. I am a big
lawyer, and comprehend heaven, earth and hell, to bring forth
knowledge that shall cover up all lawyers, doctors and other big

*Ibid., p. 616.

Smith had his way, as usual, and on March 4, the Council passed
unanimously an ordinance making gold and silver the only legal
tender in payment of debts and fines in Nauvoo, and fixing a
punishment for the circulation of counterfeit money. Perhaps this
Council never took a broader view of its legislative authority
than in this instance.

Smith never laid aside his natural inclination for good
fellowship, nor took himself too seriously while posing as a
mouthpiece of the Lord. Along with the entries recording his
predictions he notes such matters as these: "Played ball with the
brethren." "Cut wood all day." A visitor at Nauvoo, in 1843,
describes him as "a jolly fellow, and one of the last persons
whom he would have supposed God would have raised up as a
Prophet."* Josiah Quincy said that Smith seemed to him to have a
keen sense of the humorous aspects of his position. "It seems to
me, General," Quincy said to him, "that you have too much power
to be safely trusted in one man." "In your hands or that of any
other person," was his reply, "so much power would no doubt be
dangerous. I am the only man in the world whom it would be safe
to trust with it. Remember, I am a prophet." "The last five
words," says Quincy, "were spoken in a rich comical aside, as if
in hearty recognition of the ridiculous sound they might have in
the ears of a Gentile."**

* This same idea is presented by a writer in the Millennial Star,
Vol. XVII, p. 820: "When the fact of Smith's divine character
shall burst upon the nations, they will be struck dumb with
wonder and astonishment at the Lord's choice,--the last
individual in the whole world whom they would have chosen."

** "Figures of the Past;" p. 397.

Smith makes this entry on February 20, 1843: "While the
[Municipal] Court was in session, I saw two boys fighting in the
street. I left the business of the court, ran over immediately,
caught one of the boys and then the other, and after giving them
proper instruction, I gave the bystanders a lecture for not
interfering in such cases. I returned to the court, and told them
nobody was allowed to fight in Nauvoo but myself."

In January, 1842, Smith once more became a "storekeeper." Writing
to an absent brother on January 5, 1842, he described his
building, with a salesroom fitted up with shelves and drawers, a
private office, etc. He added that he had a fair stock, "although
some individuals have succeeded in detaining goods to a
considerable amount. I have stood behind the counter all day," he
continued, "dealing out goods as steadily as any clerk you ever

* Millennial Star, Vol. XIX, p. 21.

The following entry is found under date of June 1, 1842: "Sent
Dr. Richards to Carthage on business. On his return, old Charley,
while on a gallop, struck his knees and breast instead of his
feet, fell in the street and rolled over in an instant, and the
doctor narrowly escaped with his life. It was a trick of the
devil to kill my clerk. Similar attacks have been made upon
myself of late, and Satan is seeking our destruction on every

Smith practically gave up "revealing" during his life in Nauvoo.
At Rigdon's church trial, after Smith's death, President Marks
said, "Brother Joseph told us that he, for the future, whenever
there was a revelation to be presented to the church, would first
present it to the Quorum, and then, if it passed the Quorum, it
should be presented to the church." Strong pressure must have
been exerted upon the prophet to persuade him to consent to such
a restriction, and it is the only instance of the kind that is
recorded during his career. But if he did not "reveal," he could
not be prevented from uttering oral prophecies and giving his
interpretation of the Scriptures. That he had become possessed
with the idea of a speedy ending of this world seems altogether
probable. All through his autobiography he notes reports of
earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, etc., and he gives special
emphasis to accounts that reached him of "showers of flesh and
blood." Under date of February 18, 1843, he notes, "While at
dinner I remarked to my family and friends present that, when the
earth was sanctified and became like a sea of glass, it would be
one great Urim and Thummim, and the Saints could look in it and
see as they are seen." Another of his wise sayings is thus
recorded, "The battle of Gog and Magog will be after the

In some remarks, on April 2, 1843, Smith made the one prediction
that came true, and one which has always given the greatest
satisfaction to the Saints. This was: "I prophesy in the name of
the Lord God that the commencement of the difficulties which will
cause much bloodshed previous to the coming of the Son of man
will be in South Carolina. It may probably arise through the
slave trade." This prediction was afterward amplified so as to
declare that the war between the Northern and Southern states
would involve other nations in Europe, and that the slaves would
rise up against their masters. It would have been better for his
fame had he left the announcement in its original shape.

Such is the picture of Smith the prophet as drawn by himself. Of
the rumors about the Mormons, current in all the counties near
Nauvoo, which cannot be proved by Mormon testimony there were

CHAPTER IX. Smith's Falling Out With Bennett And Higbee

Surprise has been expressed that Smith would permit the newcomer,
General John C. Bennett, to be elected the first mayor of Nauvoo
under the new charter. Much less surprising is the fact that a
falling-out soon occurred between them which led to the
withdrawal of Bennett from the church on May 17, 1842, and made
for the prophet an enemy who pursued him with a method and
vindictiveness that he had not before encountered from any of
those who had withdrawn, or been driven, from the church

The exact nature of the dispute between the two men has never
been explained. That personal jealousy entered into it there is
little doubt. Smith never had submitted to any real division of
his supreme authority, and when Bennett entered the fold as
political lobbyist, mayor, major general, etc., a clash seemed
unavoidable. It was stated, during Rigdon's church trial after
Smith's death, that Bennett declared, at the first conference he
attended at Nauvoo, that he sustained the same position in the
First Presidency that the Holy Ghost does to the Father and the
Son; and that, after Smith's death, Bennett visited Nauvoo, and
proposed to Rigdon that the latter assume Smith's place in the
church, and let Bennett assume that which had been occupied by

* Times and Seasons, Vol. V, p. 655.

The Mormon explanation given at the time of Bennett's expulsion
was that some of their travelling elders in the Eastern states
discovered that the general had a wife and family there while he
was paying attention to young ladies in Nauvoo; but a very slight
acquaintance with Smith's ideas on the question of morality at
that time is needed to indicate that this was an afterthought.
The course of the church authorities showed that they were ready
to every way qualified to be a useful citizen. Smith directed the
clerk of the church to permit Bennett to withdraw "if he desires
to do so, and this with the best of feelings toward you and
General Bennett." But as soon as Bennett began his attacks on
Smith the church made haste to withdraw the hand of fellowship
from him, and framed a formal writ of excommunication, and Smith
could not find enough phials of wrath to pour upon him. Thus, in
a statement published in the Times and Seasons of July 1, 1842,
he called Bennett "an impostor and a base adulterer," brought up
the story of his having a wife in Ohio, and charged that he
taught women that it was proper to have promiscuous intercourse
with men.

As soon as Bennett left Nauvoo he began the publication of a
series of letters in the Sangamon (Illinois) Journal, which
purported to give an inside view of the Mormon designs, and the
personal character and practices of the church leaders. These
were widely copied, and seem to have given people in the East
their first information that Smith was anything worse than a
religious pretender. Bennett also started East lecturing on the
same subject, and he published in Boston in the same year a
little book called "History of the Saints; or an Expose of Joe
Smith and Mormonism," containing, besides material which he had
collected, copious extracts from the books of Howe and W. Harris.

Bennett declared that he had never believed in any of the Mormon
doctrines, but that, forming the opinion that their leaders were
planning to set up "a despotic and religious empire" over the
territory included in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and
Missouri, he decided to join them, learn their secrets, and
expose them. Bennett's personal rascality admits of no doubt, and
not the least faith need be placed in this explanation of his
course, which, indeed, is disproved by his later efforts to
regain power in the church. It does seem remarkable, however,
that neither the Lord nor his prophet knew anything about
Bennett's rascality, and that they should select him, among
others, for special mention in the long revelation of January 19,
1841, wherein the Lord calls him "my servant," and directs him to
help Smith "in sending my word to the kings of the people of the
earth." There is no doubt that Bennett obtained an inside view of
Smith's moral, political, and religious schemes, and that, while
his testimony un-corroborated might be questioned, much that he
wrote was amply confirmed.

According to Bennett's statements, Mormon society at Nauvoo was
organized licentiousness. There were "Cyprian Saints," "Chartered
Sisters of Charity," and "Cloistered Saints," or spiritual wives,
all designed to pander to the passions of church members. Of the
system of "spiritual wives" (which was set forth in the
revelation concerning polygamy), Bennett says in his book:

"When an Apostle, High Priest, Elder or Scribe conceives an
affection for a female, and he has satisfactorily ascertained
that she experiences a mutual claim, he communicates
confidentially to the Prophet his affaire du coeur, and requests
him to inquire of the Lord whether or not it would be right and
proper for him to take unto himself the said woman for his
spiritual wife. It is no obstacle whatever to this spiritual
marriage if one or both of the parties should happen to have a
husband or wife already united to them according to the laws of
the land."

Bennett alleged that Smith forced him, at the point of a pistol,
to sign an affidavit stating that Smith had no part in the
practice of the spiritual wife doctrine; but Bennett's later
disclosures went into minute particulars of alleged attempts of
Smith to secure "spiritual wives," a charge which the
commandments to the prophet's wife in the "revelation" on
polygamy amply sustain. A leading illustration cited concerned
the wife of Orson Pratt.* According to the story as told (largely
in Mrs. Pratt's words), Pratt was sent to England on a mission to
get him out of the way, and then Smith used every means in his
power to secure Mrs. Pratt's consent to his plan, but in vain.
Nancy Rigdon, the eldest unmarried daughter of Sidney Rigdon, was
another alleged intended victim of the prophet, and Bennett said
that Smith offered him $500 in cash, or a choice lot, if he would
assist in the plot. One day, when Smith was alone with her, he
pressed his request so hard that she threatened to cry for help.
The continuation of the story is not by General Bennett, but is
taken from a letter to James A. Bennett, he of "Arlington House,"
dated Nauvoo, July 27, 1842, by George W. Robinson, one of
Smith's fellow prisoners in Independence jail, and one of the
generals of the Nauvoo Legion:--

* Ebenezer Robinson says that when Orson Pratt returned from his
mission to England, and learned of the teaching of the spiritual
wife doctrine, his mind gave way. One day he disappeared, and a
search party found him five miles below Nauvoo, hatless, seated
on the bank of the river.--The Return, Vol. II, p. 363.

"She left him with disgust, and came home and told her father of
the transaction; upon which Smith was sent for. He came. She told
the tale in the presence of all the family, and to Smith's face.
I was present. Smith attempted to deny at first, and face her
down with a lie; but she told the facts with so much earnestness,
and the fact of a letter being proved which he had caused to be
written to her on the same subject, the day after the attempt
made on her virtue, breathing the same spirit, and which he had
fondly hoped was destroyed, all came with such force that he
could not withstand the testimony; and he then and there
acknowledged that every word of Miss Rigdon's testimony was true.
Now for his excuse. He wished to ascertain if she was virtuous or

To offset this damaging attack on Smith, a man named Markham was
induced to make an affidavit assailing Miss Rigdon's character,
which was published in the Wasp. But Markham's own character was
so bad, and the charge caused so much indignation, that the
editor was induced to say that the affidavit was not published by
the prophet's direction.

Bennett's charges aroused great interest among the non-Mormons in
all the counties around Nauvoo, and increased the growing enmity
against Smith's flock which was already aroused by their
political course and their alleged propensity to steal.

A minor incident among those leading up to Smith's final
catastrophe was a quarrel, some time later, between the prophet
and Francis M. Higbee. This resulted in a suit for libel against
Smith, tried in May, 1844, in which much testimony disclosing the
rotten condition of affairs in Nauvoo was given, and in the
arrest of Smith in a suit for $5000 damages. The hearing, on a
writ of habeas corpus, in Smith's behalf, is reported in Times
and Seasons, Vol. V, No. 10. The court (Smith's Municipal Court)
ordered Smith discharged, and pronounced Higbee's character
proved "infamous."

CHAPTER X. The Institution Of Polygamy

The student of the history of the Mormon church to this date, who
seeks an answer to the question, Who originated the idea of
plural marriages among the Mormons? will naturally credit that
idea to Joseph Smith, Jr. The Reorganized Church
(non-polygamist), whose membership includes Smith's direct
descendants, defend the prophet's memory by alleging that "in the
brain of J. C. Bennett was conceived the idea, and in his
practice was the principle first introduced into the church." In
maintaining this ground, however, they contend that "the official
character of President Joseph Smith should be judged by his
official ministrations as set forth in the well authenticated
accepted official documents of the church up to June 27, 1844.
His personal, private conduct should not enter into this
discussion."* The secular investigator finds it necessary to
disregard this warning, and in studying the question he discovers
an incontrovertible mass of testimony to prove that the
"revelation" concerning polygamy was a production of Smith,** was
familiar to the church leaders in Nauvoo, and was lived up to by
them before their expulsion from Illinois.

* Pamphlets Nos. 16 and 46 published by the Reorganized Church.

** "Elder W. W. Phelps said in Salt Lake Tabernacle in 1862 that
while Joseph was translating the Book of Abraham in Kirtland,
Ohio, in 1835, from the papyrus found with the Egyptian mummies,
the Prophet became impressed with the idea that polygamy would
yet become an institution of the Mormon Church. Brigham Young was
present, and was much annoyed at the statement made by Phelps;
but it is highly probable that it was the real secret that the
latter then divulged."--"Rocky Mountain Saints," p. 182.

The Book of Mormon furnishes ample proof that the idea of plural
marriages was as far from any thought of the real "author" of the
doctrinal part of that book as it was from the mind of Rigdon's
fellow-Disciples in Ohio at the time. The declarations on the
subject in the Mormon Bible are so worded that they distinctly
forbid any following of the example of Old Testament leaders like
David and Solomon. In the Book of Jacob ii. 24-28, we find these
commands: "Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and
concubines, which thing was abominable before me saith the Lord;
wherefore, thus with the Lord, I have led this people forth out
of the land of Jerusalem, by the power of mine arm, that I might
raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruit of the loins
of Joseph.

"Wherefore, I, the Lord God, will not suffer that this people
shall do like unto them of old. Wherefore my brethren, hear me,
and hearken to the word of the Lord; for there shall not any man
among you hath save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have
none; for I, the Lord God, delighteth in the chastity of women.
And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord
of Hosts."

The same view is expressed in the Book of Mosiah, where, among
the sins of King Noah, it is mentioned that "he spent his time in
riotous living with his wives and concubines," and in the Book of
Ether x. 5, where it is said that "Riplakish did not do that
which was right in the sight of the Lord, for he did have many
wives and concubines."

Smith, at the beginning of his career as a prophet, inculcated
the same views on this subject in his "revelations." Thus, in the
one dated at Kirtland, February 9, 1831, it was commanded (Sec.
42), "Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shall
cleave unto her and none else; and he that looketh upon a woman
to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the
spirit, and if he repents not he shall be cast out." In another
"revelation," dated the following month (Sec. 49), it was
declared, "Wherefore it is lawful that he should have one wife,
and they twain shall be one flesh, and all this that the earth
might answer the end of its creation."* These teachings may be
with justness attributed to Rigdon, and we shall see on how
little ground rests a carelessly made charge that he was the
originator of the "spiritual wife" notion.

"It is the strongest proof of the firm hold of a party, whether
religious or political, upon the public mind, when it may offend
with impunity against its own primary principles." MILMAN,
"History of Christianity."

That there was a loosening of the views regarding the marriage
tie almost as soon as Smith began his reign at Kirtland can be
shown on abundant proof. Booth in one of his letters said, " t
has been made known to one who has left his wife in New York
State, that he is entirely free from his wife, and he is at
pleasure to take him a wife from among the Lamanites" (Indians).*
That reports of polygamous practices among the Mormons while they
were in Ohio were current was conceded in the section on
marriage, inserted in the Kirtland edition of the "Book of
Doctrine and Covenants"--"Inasmuch as this Church of Christ has
been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy,"
etc.; and is further proved by Smith's denial in the Elders'
Journal,** and by the declaration of the Presidents of the
Seventies, withholding fellowship with any elder "who is guilty
of polygamy."

* Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled."

** p. 157, ante.

Of the enmity of the higher powers toward transgressors of the
law of morality of this time, we find an amusing (some will say
shocking) mention in Smith's "revelation" of October 25, 1831
(Sec. 66). This "revelation" (announced as the words of "the Lord
your Redeemer, the Saviour of the world") was addressed to W. E.
McLellin (who was soon after "rebuked" by the prophet for
attempting to have a "revelation" on his own account). It
declared that McLellin was "blessed for receiving mine
everlasting covenant," directed him to go forth and preach, gave
him power to heal the sick, and then added, "Commit no adultery,
a temptation with which thou hast been troubled." Could religious
bouffe go to greater lengths?

Testimony as to the liberal Mormon view of the marriage relation
while the church was in Missouri is found in the case of one
Lyon, reported by Smith on page 148 of Vol. XVI of the Millennial
Star. Lyon was the presiding high priest of one of the outlying
branches of the church. Desiring to marry a Mrs. Jackson, whose
husband was absent in the East, Lyon announced a "revelation,"
ordering the marriage to take place, telling her that he knew by
revelation that her husband was dead. He gained her consent in
this way, but, before the ceremony was performed, Jackson
returned home, and, learning of Lyon's conduct, he had him
brought before the authorities for trial. The high priest was
found guilty enough to be deposed from his office, but not from
his church membership.

There is abundant testimony from Mormon sources to show that the
doctrine of polygamy, with the "spiritual wife" adjunct, was
practised in Nauvoo for some time before Joseph Smith's death. A
very orthodox Mormon witness on this point is Eliza R. Snow. In
her biography of her brother, Lorenzo Snow,* the recent head of
the church, she gives this account of her connection with

* "This biography and autobiography of my brother Lorenzo Snow
has been written as a tribute of sisterly affection for him, and
as a token of sincere respect to his family. It is designed to be
handed down in lineal descent, from generation to generation,--to
be preserved as a family memorial."--Extract from the preface.

"While my brother was absent on this [his first] mission to
Europe [1840-1843], changes had taken place with me, one of
eternal import, of which I supposed him to be entirely ignorant.
The Prophet Joseph had taught me the principle of plural or
celestial marriage, and I was married to him for time and
eternity. In consequence of the ignorance of most of the Saints,
as well as people of the world, on this subject, it was not
mentioned, only privately between the few whose minds were
enlightened on the subject. Not knowing how my brother [he
returned on April 12, 1843] would receive it, I did not feel at
liberty, and did not wish to assume the responsibility, of
instructing him in the principle of plural marriage .... I
informed my husband [the prophet] of the situation, and requested
him to open the subject to my brother. A favorable opportunity
soon presented, and, seated together on the bank of the
Mississippi River, they had a most interesting conversation. The
prophet afterward told me he found that my brother's mind had
been previously enlightened on the subject in question. That
Comforter which Jesus says shall I lead unto all truth had
penetrated his understanding, and, while in England, had given
him an intimation of what at that time was to many a secret. This
was the result of living near the Lord.

"It was at the private interview referred to above that the
Prophet Joseph unbosomed his heart, and described the trying
ordeal he experienced in overcoming the repugnance of his
feelings, the natural result of the force of education and social
custom, relative to the introduction of plural marriage. He knew
the voice of God--he knew the command of the Almighty to him was
to go forward--to set the example and establish celestial plural
marriage .... Yet the prophet hesitated and deferred from time to
time, until an angel of God stood by him with a drawn sword, and
told him that, unless he moved forward and established plural
marriage, his priesthood would be taken from him and he should be
destroyed. This testimony he not only bore to my brother, but
also to others."*

* "Biography of Lorenzo Snow" (1884), pp. 68-70. Young married
some of Smith's spiritual widows after the prophet's death, and
four of them, including Eliza Snow, appear in Crockwell's
illustrated "Biographies of Young's Wives," published in Utah.

Catherine Lewis, who, after passing two years with the Mormons,
escaped from Nauvoo, after taking the preliminary degrees of the
endowment, says: "The Twelve took Joseph's wives after his death.
Kimball and Young took most of them; the daughter of Kimball was
one of Joseph's wives. I heard her say to her mother: 'I will
never be sealed to my father [meaning as a wife], and I would
never have been sealed [married] to Joseph had I known it was
anything more than ceremony. I was young, and they deceived me by
saying the salvation of our whole family depended on it.' The
Apostles said they only took Joseph's wives to raise up children,
carry them through to the next world, and there deliver them up
to him; by so doing they would gain his approbation."--"Narrative
of Some of the Proceedings of the Mormons."
Smith's versatility as a fabricator seems to give him a leading
place in that respect in the record of mankind. Snow says that he
asked the prophet to set him right if he should see him indulging
in any practice that might lead him astray, and the prophet
assured him that he would never be guilty of any serious error.
"It was one of Snow's peculiarities," observes his sister, "to do
nothing by halves"; and he exemplified this in this instance by
having two wives "sealed" to him at the same time in 1845, adding
two more very soon afterward, and another in 1848. "It was
distinctly understood," says his sister, "and agreed between
them, that their marriage relations should not, for the time
being, be divulged to the world."

The testimony of John D. Lee in regard to the practice of
polygamy in Illinois is very circumstantial, and Lee was a
conscientious polygamist to the day of his death. He says* that
he was directed in this matter by principle and not by passion,
and goes on to explain:--

* "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 200

"In those days I did not always make due allowance for the
failings of the weaker vessels. I then expected perfection in all
women. I know now that I was foolish in looking for that in
anything human. I have, for slight offences, turned away
good-meaning young women that had been sealed to me, and refused
to hear their excuses, but sent them away brokenhearted. In this
I did wrong. I have regretted the same in sorrow for many years
.... Should my history ever fall into the hands of Emeline
Woolsey or Polly Ann Workman, I wish them to know that, with my
last breath, I asked God to pardon me the wrong I did them, when
I drove them from me, poor young girls as they were"

Lee says that in the winter of 1843-1844 Smith set one Sidney Hay
Jacobs to writing a pamphlet giving selections from the
Scriptures bearing on the practice of polygamy and advocating
that doctrine. The appearance of this pamphlet created so much
unfavorable comment (even Hyrum Smith denouncing it "as from
beneath") that Joseph deemed it best to condemn it in the Wasp,
although men in his confidence were busy advocating its

The "revelation" sanctioning plural marriages is dated July 12,
1843, and Lee says that Smith "dared not proclaim it publicly,"
but taught it "confidentially," urging his followers "to
surrender themselves to God" for their salvation; and "in the
winter of 1845, meetings were held all over the city of Nauvoo,
and the spirit of Elijah was taught in the different families, as
a foundation to the order of celestial marriage, as well as the
law of adoption."* The Saints were also taught that Gentiles had
no right to perform the marriage ceremony, and that their former
marriage relations were invalid, and that they could be "sealed"
to new wives under the authority of the church.

*"Mormonism Unveiled," p. 165.

Lee gives a complete record of his plural marriages, which is
interesting, showing how the business was conducted at the start.
His second wife, the daughter of a wealthy farmer near Quincy,
Illinois, was "sealed" to him in Nauvoo in 1845, after she had
been an inmate of his house for three months. His third and
fourth wives were "sealed" to him soon after, but Young took a
fancy to wife No. 3 (who had borne Lee a son), and, after much
persuasion, she was "sealed" to Young. At this same "sealing" Lee
took wife No. 4, a girl whom he had baptized in Tennessee. In the
spring of 1845 two sisters of his first wife AND THEIR MOTHER
were "sealed" to him; he married the mother, he says, "for the
salvation of her eternal state." At the completion of the Nauvoo
Temple he took three more wives. At Council Bluffs, in 1847,
Brigham Young "sealed" him to three more, two of them sisters, in
one night, and he secured the fourteenth soon after, the
fifteenth in 1851, the sixteenth in 1856, the seventeenth in 1858
("a dashing young bride"), the eighteenth in 1859, and the
nineteenth and last in Salt Lake City. He says he claimed "only
eighteen true wives," as he married Mrs. Woolsey "for her soul's
sake, and she was nearly sixty years old." By these wives he had
sixty-four children, of whom fifty-four were living when his book
was written.

Ebenezer Robinson, explaining in the Return a statement signed by
him and his wife in October, 1842, to offset Bennett's charges,
in which they declared that they "knew of no other form of
marriage ceremony" except the one in the "Book of Doctrine and
Covenants," said that this statement was then true, as the heads
of the church had not yet taught the new system to others. But
they had heard it talked of, and the prophet's brother, Don
Carlos, in June, 1841, had said to Robinson, "Any man who will
teach and practise spiritual wifery will go to hell, no matter if
it is my brother Joseph." Hyrum Smith, who first opposed the
doctrine, went to Robinson's house in December, 1843, and taught
the system to him and his wife. Robinson was told of the
"revelation" to Joseph a few days after its date, and just as he
was leaving Nauvoo on a mission to New York. He, Law, and William
Marks opposed the innovation. He continues: "We returned home
from that mission the latter part of November, 1843. Soon after
our return, I was told that when we were gone the 'revelation'
was presented to and read in the High Council in Nauvoo, three of
the members of which refused to accept it as from the Lord,
President Marks, Cowles, and Counsellor Leonard Soby." Cowles at
once resigned from the High Council and the Presidency of the
church at Nauvoo, and was looked on as a seceder.

Robinson gives convincing testimony that, as early as 1843, the
ceremonies of the Endowment House were performed in Nauvoo by a
secret organization called "The Holy Order," and says that in
June, 1844, he saw John Taylor clad in an endowment robe. He
quotes a letter to himself from Orson Hyde, dated September 19,
1844, in which Hyde refers guardedly to the new revelation and
the "Holy Order" as "the charge which the prophet gave us,"
adding, "and we know that Elder Rigdon does not know what it
was." *

* The Return, Vol. II, p. 252.

We may find the following references to this subject in Smith's
diary: "April 29, 1842. The Lord makes manifest to me many things
which it is not wisdom for me to make public until others can
witness the proof of them."

"May 1. I preached in the grove on the Keys of the Kingdom, etc.
The Keys are certain signs and words by which the false spirits
and personages can be detected from true, and which cannot be
revealed to the Elders till the Temple is completed."

"May 4. I spent the day in the upper part of my store . . . in
council with (Hyrum, Brigham Young and others) instructing them
in the principles and order of the Priesthood, attending to
washings, anointings, endowments . . . . The communications I
made to this Council were of things spiritual, and to be received
only by the spiritually minded; and there was nothing made known
to these men but what will be made known to all the Saints of the
last days as soon as they are prepared to receive, and a proper
place is prepared to communicate them." *

* Millennial Star, Vol. XIX, pp. 390-393.

In one of Smith's dissertations, which are inserted here and
there in his diary, is the following under date of August,

"If we seek first the kingdom of God, all good things will be
added. So with Solomon. First he asked wisdom and God gave it to
him, and with it every desire of his heart, even things which
might be considered abominable to all who understand the order of
heaven only in part, but which in reality were right, because God
gave and sanctioned them by special revelation." *

* Millennial Star, Vol. XIX, p. 774.

While the Mormon leaders, Lorenzo Snow and others, were in the
Utah penitentiary after conviction under the Edmunds antipolygamy
law, refusing pardons on condition that they would give up the
practice of polygamy, the Deseret News of May 20, 1886, printed
an affidavit made on February 16, 1874, at the request of Joseph
F. Smith, by William Clayton, who was a clerk in the prophet's
office in Nauvoo and temple recorder, to show the world that "the
martyred prophet is responsible to God and the world for this
doctrine." The affidavit recites that while Clayton and the
prophet were taking a walk, in February, 1843, Smith first
broached to him the subject of plural marriages, and told him
that the doctrine was right in the sight of God, adding, "It is
your privilege to have all the wives you want." He gives the
names of a number of the wives whom Smith married at this time,
adding that his wife Emma "was cognizant of the fact of some, if
not all, of these being his wives, and she generally treated them
very kindly." He says that on July 12, 1843, Hyrum offered to
read the "revelation" to Emma if the prophet would write it out,
saying, "I believe I can convince her of its truth, and you will
hereafter have peace." Joseph smiled, and remarked, "You do not
know Emma as well as I do," but he thereupon dictated the
"revelation" and Clayton wrote it down. An examination of its
text will show how largely it was devoted to Emma's subjugation.
When Hyrum returned from reading it to the prophet's lawful wife,
he said that "he had never received a more severe talking to in
his life; that Emma was very bitter and full of resentment and
anger." Joseph repeated his remark that his brother did not know
Emma as well as he did, and, putting the "revelation" into his
pocket, they went out. *

* Jepson's "Historical Record," Vol. VI, pp. 233-234, gives the
names of twenty-seven women who, "besides a few others about whom
we have been unable to get all the necessary information, were
sealed to the Prophet Joseph during the last three years of his

"At the present time," says Stenhouse ("Rocky Mountain Saints"),
p. 185, "there are probably about a dozen sisters in Utah who
proudly acknowledge themselves to be the `wives of Joseph, 'and
how many others there may be who held that relationship no man
At the conference in Salt Lake City on August 28, 1852, at which
the first public announcement of the revelation was made, Brigham
Young said in the course of his remarks: "Though that doctrine
has not been preached by the Elders, this people have believed in
it for many years.* The original copy of this revelation was
burned up. William Clayton was the man who wrote it from the
mouth of the Prophet. In the meantime it was in Bishop Whitney's
possession. He wished the privilege to copy it, which brother
Joseph granted. Sister Emma burnt the original." The
"revelation," he added, had been locked up for years in his desk,
on which he had a patent lock.**

* As evidence that polygamy was not countenanced by Smith and his
associates in Nauvoo, there has been cited a notice in the Times
and Seasons of February, 1844, signed by Joseph and Hyrum Smith,
cutting off an elder named Brown for preaching "polygamy and
other false and corrupt doctrines," and a letter of Hyrum, dated
March 15, 1844, threatening to deprive of his license and
membership any elder who preached "that a man having a certain
priesthood may have as many wives as he pleases." The Deseret
News of May 20, 1886, noticing these and other early denials,
justifies the falsehoods, saying that "Jesus enjoined his
Disciples on several occasions to keep to themselves principles
that he made known to them," that the "Book of Doctrine and
Covenants" gave the same instruction, and that the elders, as the
"revelation" was not yet promulgated, "were justified in denying
those imputations, and at the same time avoiding the avowal of
such doctrines as were not yet intended for this world." P. P.
Pratt flatly denied, in England, in 1846, that any such doctrine
was known or practised by the Saints, and John Taylor (afterward
the head of the church), in a discussion in France in July, 1850,
declared that "these things are too outrageous to admit of
belief." The latter false statements would be covered by the
excuse of the Deseret News.

** Deseret News, extra, September 14, 1852. Young declared in a
sermon in Salt Lake City in July, 1855, that he was among the
doubters when the prophet revealed the new doctrine, saying: "It
was the first time in my life that I desired the grave, and I
could hardly get over it for a long time . . . . And I have had
to examine myself from that day to this, and watch my faith and
carefully meditate, lest I should be found desiring the grave
more than I ought to." His examinations proved eminently

Further proof is not needed to show that this doctrine was the
offspring of Joseph Smith, and that its original object was to
grant him unrestricted indulgence of his passions.

Justice to Sidney Rigdon requires that his memory should be
cleared of the charge, which has been made by more than one
writer, that the spiritual wife doctrine was of his invention.
There is the strongest evidence to show that it was Smith's
knowledge that he could not win Rigdon over to polygamy which
made the prophet so bitter against his old counsellor, and that
it was Rigdon's opposition to the new doctrine that made Young so
determined to drive him out of church after the prophet's death.

When Rigdon returned to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, to establish his
own Mormon church there, he began in October, 1844, the
publication of a revived Latter-Day Saints' Messenger and
Advocate. Stating "the greater cause" of the opposition of the
leaders of Nauvoo to him, in an editorial, he said:--

"Know then that the so-called Twelve Apostles at Nauvoo are now
teaching the doctrine of what is called Spiritual Wives; that a
man may have more wives than one; and they are not only teaching
it, but practising it, and this doctrine is spreading alarmingly
through that apostate branch of the church of Latter-Day Saints.
Their greatest objection to us was our opposition to this
doctrine, knowing, as they did, that we had got the fact in
possession. It created alarm, great alarm; every effort was made
while we were there to effect something that might screen them
from the consequence of exposure . . . .

"This doctrine of a man having more wives than one is the cause
which has induced these men to put at defiance the ecclesiastical
arrangements of the church, and, what is equally criminal, to do
despite unto the moral excellence of the doctrine and covenants
of the church, setting up an order of things of their own, in
violation of all the rules and regulations known to the Saints."

In the same editorial Rigdon prints a statement by a gentleman
who was at Nauvoo at the time, and for whose veracity he vouches,
which said, "It was said to me by many that they had no objection
to Elder Rigdon but his opposition to the spiritual wife system."

Benjamin Winchester, who was one of the earliest missionaries
sent out from Kirtland, adds this testimony in a letter to Elder
John Hardy of Boston, Massachusetts, whose trial in 1844 for
opposing the spiritual wife doctrine occasioned wide comment:

"As regards the trial of Elder Rigdon at Nauvoo, it was a forced
affair, got up by the Twelve to get him out of their way, that
they might the better arrogate to themselves higher authority
than they ever had, or anybody ever dreamed they would have; and
also (as they perhaps hope) to prevent a complete expose of the
spiritual wife system, which they knew would deeply implicate

CHAPTER XI. Public Announcement Of The Doctrine Of Polygamy

Athough there was practically no concealment of the practice of
polygamy by the Mormons resident in Utah after their arrival
there, it was not until five years from that date that open
announcement was made by the church of the important
"revelation." This "revelation" constitutes Sec. 132 of the
modern edition of the "Book of Doctrine and Covenants," and bears
this heading: "Revelation on the Eternity of the Marriage
Covenant, including Plurality of Wives. Given through Joseph, the
Seer, in Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, July 12, 1843." All
its essential parts are as follows:

"Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Joseph, that
inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand, to know and understand
wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac and
Jacob; as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching
the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and

"Behold! and lo, I am the Lord thy God, and will answer thee as
touching this matter:

"Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the
instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who
have this law revealed unto them must obey the same;

"For behold! I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant;
and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one
can reject this covenant, and be permitted to enter into my

"For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law
which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions
thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the

"And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was
instituted for the fullness of my glory; and he that receiveth a
fullness thereof, must and shall abide the law, or he shall be
damned, saith the Lord God.

"And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are
these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows,
performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that
are not made, and entered into, and sealed, by the Holy Spirit of
promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for
all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and
commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have
appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed
unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and
there is never but one on the earth at a time, on whom this power
and the keys of this Priesthood are conferred), are of no
efficacy, virtue, or force, in and after the resurrection from
the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end, have
an end when men are dead . . . .

"I am the Lord thy God, and I give unto you this commandment,
that no man shall come unto the Father but by me, or by my word,
which is my law, saith the Lord; . . .

"Therefore, if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry
her not by me, nor by my word; and he covenant with her so long
as he is in the world, and she with him, their covenant and
marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are
out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when
they are out of the world;

"Therefore, when they are out of the world, they neither marry,
nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven,
which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who
are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight
of glory;

"For these angels did not abide my law, therefore they cannot be
enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation,
in their saved condition, to all eternity, and from henceforth
are not Gods, but are angels of God, for ever and ever.

"And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife, and
make a covenant with her for time and for all eternity, if that
covenant is not by me, or by my word, which is my law, and is not
sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, through him whom I have
anointed, and appointed unto this power--then it is not valid,
neither of force when they are out of the world, because they are
not joined by me, saith the Lord, neither by my word; when they
are out of the world, it cannot be received there, because the
angels and the Gods are appointed there, by whom they cannot
pass; they cannot, therefore, inherit my glory, for my house is a
house of order, saith the Lord God.

"And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my
word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant,
and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him
who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power, and the
keys of this Priesthood; and it shall be said unto them, ye shall
come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the
first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit
thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all
heights and depths--then shall it be written in the Lamb's Book
of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent
blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder
whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all
things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and
through all eternity, and shall be of full force when they are
out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the
Gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all
things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall
be a fullness and a continuation of the seeds for ever and ever.

"Then shall they be Gods, because they have no end; therefore
shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they
continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are
subject unto them. Then shall they be Gods, because they have all
power, and the angels are subject unto them.

"Verily, verily I say unto you, except ye abide my law, ye cannot
attain to this glory; . . .

"And verily, verily I say unto you, that whatsoever you seal on
earth, shall be sealed in Heaven; and whatsoever you bind on
earth, in my name, and by my word, with the Lord, it shall be
eternally bound in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you remit on
earth shall be remitted eternally in the heavens; and whosesoever
sins you retain on earth, shall be retained in heaven.

"And again, verily I say, whomsoever you bless, I will bless, and
whomsoever you curse, I will curse, with the Lord; for I, the
Lord, am thy God . . . .

"Verily I say unto you, a commandment I give unto mine handmaid,
Emma Smith, your wife, whom I have given unto you, that she stay
herself, and partake not of that which I commanded you to offer
unto her; for I did it, saith the Lord, to prove you all, as I
did Abraham; and that I might require an offering at your hand,
by covenant and sacrifice.

"And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have
been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure
before me; and those who are not pure, and have said they were
pure, shall be destroyed, with the Lord God;

"For I am the Lord, thy God, and ye shall obey my voice; and I
give unto my servant Joseph that he shall be made ruler over many
things, for he hath been faithful over a few things, and from
henceforth I will strengthen him.

"And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave
unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not
abide this commandment, she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord;
for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her, if she abide not
in my law;

"But if she will not abide this commandment, then shall my
servant Joseph do all things for her, even as he hath said; and I
will bless him and multiply him, and give unto him an hundred
fold in this world, of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters,
houses and lands, wives and children, and crowns of eternal lives
in the eternal worlds.

"And again, verily I say, let mine handmaid forgive my servant
Joseph his trespasses; and then shall she be forgiven her
trespasses, wherein she has trespassed against me; and I, the
Lord thy God, will bless her, and multiply her, and make her
heart to rejoice . . . .

"And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood, if any
man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the
first give her consent; and if he espouse the second, and they
are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he
justified; he cannot commit adultery, for they are given unto
him; for he cannot commit adultery. with that that belongeth unto
him and to no one else.

"And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot
commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto
him, therefore is he justified.

"But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused,
shall be with another man; she has committed adultery, and shall
be destroyed; for they are given unto him to multiply and
replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfill
the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of
the world; and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that
they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my
Father continued, that he may be glorified.

"And again, verily, verily I say unto you, if any man have a wife
who holds the keys of this power, and he teacheth unto her the
law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things, then shall
she believe, and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed,
saith the Lord your God, for I will destroy her; for I will
magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law.

"Therefore, it shall be lawful in me, if she receive not this
law, for him to receive all things, whatsoever I, the Lord his
God, will give unto him, because she did not administer unto him
according to my word; and she then becomes the transgressor; and
he is exempt from the law of Sarah; who administered unto Abraham
according to the law, when I commanded Abraham to take Hagar to

"And now, as pertaining to this law, verily, verily I say unto
you, I will reveal more unto you, hereafter; therefore, let this
suffice for the present. Behold, I am Alpha and Omega. Amen."

This jumble of doctrinal and family commands bears internal
evidence of the truth of Clayton's account of its offhand
dictation with a view to its immediate submission to the
prophet's wife, who was already in a state of rebellion because
of his infidelities.

The publication of the "revelation" was made at a Church
Conference which opened in Salt Lake City on August 28, 1852, and
was called especially to select elders for missionary work.* At
the beginning of the second day's session Orson Pratt announced
that, unexpectedly, he had been called on to address the
conference on the subject of a plurality of wives. "We shall
endeavor," he said, "to set forth before this enlightened
assembly some of the causes why the Almighty has revealed such a
doctrine, and why it is considered a part and portion of our
religious faith."

*For text of the addresses at this conference, see Deseret News,
extra, September 14, 1852.

He then took up the attitude of the church, as a practiser of
this doctrine, toward the United States government, saying:--

"I believe that they will not, under our present form of
government (I mean the government of the United States), try us
for treason for believing and practising our religious notions
and ideas. I think, if I am not mistaken, that the constitution
gives the privilege to all of the inhabitants of this country, of
the free exercise of their religious notions, and the freedom of
their faith and the practice of it. Then, if it can be proved to
a demonstration that the Latter-Day Saints have actually
embraced, as a part and portion of their religion, the doctrine
of a plurality of wives, it is constitutional. And should there
ever be laws enacted by this government to restrict them from the
free exercise of their religion, such laws must be

Thus, at this early date in the history of Utah, was stated the
Mormon doctrine of the constitutional foundation of this belief,
and, in the views then stated, may be discovered the reason for
the bitter opposition which the Mormon church is still making to
a constitutional amendment specifically declaring that polygamy
is a violation of the fundamental law of the United States.

Pratt then spoke at great length on the necessity and
rightfulness of polygamy. Taking up the doctrine of a previous
existence of all souls and a kind of nobility among the spirits,
he said that the most likely place for the noblest spirits to
take their tabernacles was among the Saints, and he continued:--
"Now let us inquire what will become of those individuals who
have this law taught unto them in plainness, if they reject it."
(A voice in the stand "They will be damned.") "I will tell you.
They will be damned, saith the Lord, in the revelation he hath
given. Why? Because, where much is given, much is required. Where
there is great knowledge unfolded for the exaltation, glory and
happiness of the sons and daughters of God, if they close up
their hearts, if they reject the testimony of his word and will,
and do not give heed to the principles he has ordained for their
good, they are worthy of damnation, and the Lord has said they
shall be damned."

After Brigham Young had made a statement concerning the history
of the "revelation," already referred to, the "revelation" itself
was read.

The Millennial Star (Liverpool) published the proceedings of this
conference in a supplement to its Volume XV, and the text of the
"revelation" in its issue of January 1, 1853, saying editorially
in the next number:--

"None [of the revelations] seem to penetrate so deep, or be so
well calculated to shake to its very center the social structure
which has been reared and vainly nurtured by this professedly
wise and Christian generation; none more conclusively exhibit how
surely an end must come to all the works, institutions,
ordinances and covenants of men; none more portray the eternity
of God's purpose--and, we may say, none have carried so mighty an
influence, or had the power to stamp their divinity upon the mind
by absorbing every feeling of the soul, to the extent of the one
which has appeared in our last."

With the Mormon church in England, however, the publication of
the new doctrine proved a bombshell, as is shown by the fact that
2164 excommunications in the British Isles were reported to the
semi-annual conference of December 31, 1852, and 1776 to the
conference of the following June.

The doctrine of "sealing" has been variously stated. According to
one early definition, the man and the woman who are to be
properly mated are selected in heaven in a pre-existent state;
if, through a mistake in an earthly marriage, A has got the
spouse intended for B, the latter may consider himself a husband
to Mrs. A. Another early explanation which may be cited was thus
stated by Henry Rowe in the Boston Investigator of, February 3,

"The spiritual wife doctrine I will explain, as taught me by
Elder W--e, as taught by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Elder
Adams, William Smith, and the rest of the Quorum, etc., etc.
Joseph had a revelation from God that there were a number of
spirits to be born into the world before their exaltation in the
next; that Christ would not come until all these spirits received
or entered their 'tabernacles of clay'; that these spirits were
hovering around the world, and at the door of bad houses,
watching a chance of getting into their tabernacles; that God had
provided an honorable way for them to come forth--that was, by
the Elders in Israel sealing up virtuous women; and as there was
no provision made for woman in the Scriptures, their only chance
of heaven was to be sealed up to some Elder for time and
eternity, and be a star in his crown forever; that those who were
the cause of bringing forth these spirits would receive a reward,
the ratio of which reward should be the greater or less according
to the number they were the means of bringing forth."

Brigham Young's definition of "spiritual wifeism" was thus
expressed: "And I would say, as no man can be perfect without the
woman, so no woman can be perfect without a man to lead her. I
tell you the truth as it is in the bosom of eternity; and I say
to every man upon the face of the earth, if he wishes to be
saved, he cannot be saved without a woman by his side. This is
spiritual wifeism, that is, the doctrine of spiritual wives."*

* Times and Seasons, Vol. VI, p. 955.

The Mormon, under polygamy, was taught that he "married" for
time, but was "sealed" for eternity. The "sealing" was therefore
the more important ceremony, and was performed in the Endowment
House, with the accompaniment of secret oaths and mystic
ceremonies. If a wife disliked her husband, and wished to be
"sealed" to a man of her choice, the Mormon church would marry
her to the latter*--a marriage made actual in every sense--if he
was acceptable as a Mormon; and, if the first husband also wanted
to be "sealed" to her, the church would perform a mock ceremony
to satisfy this husband. "It is impossible," says Hyde, "to state
all the licentiousness, under the name of religion, that these
sealing ordinances have occasioned." **

* One of Stenhouse's informants about the "reformation" of 1856
in Utah writes: "It was hinted, and secretly taught by authority,
that women should form relations with more than one man." On this
Stenhouse says: "The author has no personal knowledge, from the
present leaders of the church, of this teaching; but he has often
heard that something would then be taught which 'would test the
brethren as much as polygamy had tried the sisters."'--"Rocky
Mountain Saints," p. 301.

** "Mormonism," p. 84.

A Mormon preacher never hesitated to go to any lengths in
justifying the doctrine of plural marriages. One illustration of
this may suffice. Orson Hyde, in a discourse in the Salt Lake
Tabernacle in March, 1857, made the following argument to support
a claim that Jesus Christ was a polygamist:--

"It will be borne in mind that, once on a time, there was a
marriage in Cana of Galilee; and on a careful reading of that
transaction it will be discovered that no less a person than
Jesus Christ was married on that occasion. If he was never
married, his intimacy with Mary and Martha, and the other Mary
also, whom Jesus loved, must have been highly unbecoming and
improper, to say the best of it. I will venture to say that, if
Jesus Christ was now to pass through the most pious countries in
Christendom, with a train of women such as used to follow him,
fondling about him, combing his hair, anointing him with precious
ointments, washing his feet with tears and wiping them with the
hair of their heads, and unmarried, or even married, he would be
mobbed, tarred and feathered, and rode, not on an ass, but on a
rail . . . . Did he multiply, and did he see his seed? Did he
honor his Father's law by complying with it, or did he not?
Others may do as they like, but I will not charge our Saviour
with neglect or transgression in this or any other duty."*

* Journal of Discourses, Vol. IV, p. 259.

The doctrine of "adoption," referred to, taught that the direct
line of the true priesthood was broken with the death of Christ's
apostles, and that the rights of the lineage of Abraham could be
secured only by being "adopted" by a modern apostle, all of whom
were recognized as lineal descendants of Abraham. Recourse was
here had to the Scriptures, and Romans iv. 16 was quoted to
sustain this doctrine. The first "adoptions" took place in the
Nauvoo Temple. Lee was "adopted to" Brigham Young, and Young's
and Lee's children were then "adopted" to their own fathers.

With this necessary explanation of the introduction of polygamy,
we may take up the narrative of events at Nauvoo.

CHAPTER XII. The Suppression Of The Expositor

Smith was now to encounter a kind of resistance within the church
that he had never met. In all previous apostasies, where members
had dared to attack his character or question his authority, they
had been summarily silenced, and in most cases driven at once out
of the Mormon community. But there were men at Nauvoo above the
average of the Mormon convert as regards intelligence and wealth,
who refused to follow the prophet in his new doctrine regarding
marriage, and whose opposition took the very practical shape of
the establishment of a newspaper in the Mormon city to expose him
and to defend themselves.

In his testimony in the Higbee trial Smith had accused a
prominent Mormon, Dr. R. D. Foster, of stealing and of gross
insults to women. Dr. Foster, according to current report, had
found Smith at his house, and had received from his wife a
confession that Smith had been persuading her to become one of
his spiritual wives.*

* "At the May, 1844, term of the Hancock Circuit Court two
indictments were found against Smith by the grand jury--one for
adultery and one for perjury. To the surprise of all, on the
Monday following, the Prophet appeared in court and demanded that
he be tried on the last-named indictment. The prosecutor not
being ready, a continuance was entered to the next term."--GREGG,
"History of Hancock County," p. 301.

Among the leading members of the church at Nauvoo at this time
were two brothers, William and Wilson Law. They were Canadians,
and had brought considerable property with them, and in the
"revelation" of January 19, 1841, William Law was among those who
were directed to take stock in Nauvoo House, and was named as one
of the First Presidency, and was made registrar of the
University. Wilson Law was a regent of the University and a major
general of the Legion. General Law had been an especial favorite
of Smith. In writing to him while in hiding from the Missouri
authorities in 1842, Smith says, "I love that soul that is so
nobly established in that clay of yours." * At the conference of
April, 1844, Hyrum Smith said: "I wish to speak about Messrs.
Law's steam mill. There has been a great deal of bickering about
it. The mill has been a great benefit to the city. It has brought
in thousands who would not have come here. The Messrs. Law have
sunk their capital and done a great deal of good. It is out of
character to cast any aspersions on the Messrs. Law."

* Millennial Star, Vol. XX, p. 695.

Dr. Foster, the Laws, and Counsellor Sylvester Emmons became
greatly stirred up about the spiritual wife doctrine, and the
effort of Smith and those in his confidence to teach and enforce
the doctrine of plural wives; and they finally decided to
establish in Nauvoo a newspaper that would openly attack the new
order of things. The name chosen for this newspaper was the
Expositor, and Emmons was its editor.* Its motto was: "The Truth,
the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth," and its prospectus
announced as its purpose, "Unconditional repeal of the city
charter--to correct the abuses of the unit power--to advocate
disobedience to political revelations." Only one number of this
newspaper was ever issued, but that number was almost directly
the cause of the prophet's death.

* Emmons went direct to Beardstown, Illinois, after the
destruction of the paper, and lived there till the day of his
death, a leading citizen. He established the first newspaper
published in Beardstown, and was for sixteen years the mayor of
the city.

The most important feature of the Expositor (which bore date of
June 7, 1844) was a "preamble" and resolutions of "seceders from
the church at Nauvoo," and affidavits by Mr. and Mrs. William Law
and Austin Cowles setting forth that Hyrum Smith had read the
"revelation" concerning polygamy to William Law and to the High
Council, and that Mrs. Law had read it.*

* These were the only affidavits printed in the Expositor. More
than one description of the paper has stated that it contained
many more. Thus, Appleton's "American Encyclopedia," under
"Mormons," says, "In the first number (there was only one) they
printed the affidavits of sixteen women to the effect that Joseph
Smith and Sidney Rigdon and others had endeavored to convert them
to the spiritual wife doctrine."

The "preamble" affirmed the belief of the seceders in the Mormon
Bible and the "Book of Doctrine and Covenants," but declared
their intention to "explode the vicious principles of Joseph
Smith," adding, "We are aware, however, that we are hazarding
every earthly blessing, particularly property, and probably life
itself, in striking this blow at tyranny and oppression." Many of
them, it was explained, had sought a reformation of the church
without any public exposure, but they had been spurned,
"particularly by Joseph, who would state that, if he had been or
was guilty of the charges we would charge him with, he would not
make acknowledgment, but would rather be damned, for it would
detract from his dignity and would consequently prove the
overthrow of the church. We would ask him, on the other hand, if
the overthrow of the church were not inevitable; to which he
often replied that we would all go to hell together and convert
it into a heaven by casting the devil out; and, says he, hell is
by no means the place this world of fools supposes it to be, but,
on the contrary, it is quite an agreeable place."

The "preamble" further set forth the methods employed by Smith to
induce women from other countries, who had joined the Mormons in
Nauvoo, to become his spiritual wives, reciting the arguments
advanced, and thus summing up the general result: "She is
thunderstruck, faints, recovers and refuses. The prophet damns
her if she rejects. She thinks of the great sacrifice, and of the
many thousand miles she has travelled over sea and land that she
might save her soul from pending ruin, and replies, 'God's will
be done and not mine.' The prophet and his devotees in this way
are gratified." Smith's political aspirations were condemned as
preposterous, and the false "doctrine of many gods" was called

Fifteen resolutions followed. They declared against the evils
named, and also condemned the order to the Saints to gather in
haste at Nauvoo, explaining that the purpose of this command was
to enable the men in control of the church to sell property at
exorbitant prices, "and thus the wealth that is brought into the
place is swallowed up by the one great throat, from whence there
is no return." The seceders asserted that, although they had an
intimate acquaintance with the affairs of the church, they did
not know of any property belonging to it except the Temple.
Finally, as speaking for the true church, they ordered all
preachers to cease to teach the doctrine of plural gods, a
plurality of wives, sealing, etc., and directed offenders in this
respect to report and have their licenses renewed. Another
feature of the issue was a column address signed by Francis M.
Higbee, advising the citizens of Hancock County not to send Hyrum
Smith to the legislature, since to support him was to support
Joseph, "a man who contends all governments are to be put down,
and one established upon its ruins."

The appearance of this sheet created the greatest excitement
among the Mormon leaders that they had experienced since leaving
Missouri. They recognized in it immediately a mouthpiece of men
who were better informed than Bennett, and who were ready to
address an audience composed both of their own flock and of their
outlying non-Mormon neighbors, whose antipathy to them was
already manifesting itself aggressively. To permit the continued
publication of this sheet meant one of those surrenders which
Smith had never made.

The prophet therefore took just such action as would have been
expected of him in the circumstances. Calling a meeting of the
City Council, he proceeded to put the Expositor and its editors
on trial, as if that body was of a judicial instead of a
legislative character. The minutes of this trial, which lasted
all of Saturday, June 8, and a part of Monday, June l0, 1844, can
be found in the Neighbor of June 19, of that year, filling six
columns. The prophet-mayor occupied the chair, and the defendants
were absent.

The testimony introduced aimed at the start to break down the
characters of Dr. Foster, Higbee, and the Laws. A mechanic
testified that the Laws had bought "bogus"--(counterfeit) dies of
him. The prophet told how William Law had "pursued" him to
recover $40,000 that Smith owed him. Hyrum Smith alleged that
William Law had offered to give a man $500 if he would kill
Hyrum, and had confessed adultery to him, making a still more
heinous charge against Higbee. Hyrum referred "to the revelation
of the High Council of the church, which has caused so much talk
about a multiplicity of wives," and declared that it "concerned
things which transpired in former days, and had no reference to
the present time." Testimony was also given to show that the Laws
were not liberal to the poor, and that William's motto with his
fellowchurchmen who owed him was, "Punctuality, punctuality."*
This was naturally a serious offence in the eyes of the Smiths.

* The Expositor contained this advertisement: "The subscribers
wish to inform all those who, through sickness or other
misfortunes, are much limited is their means of procuring bread
for their families, that we have allotted Thursday of every week
to grind toll free for them, till grain becomes plentiful after
harvest.--W. & W. Law."

The prophet declared that the conduct of such men, and of such
papers as the Expositor, was calculated to destroy the peace of
the city. He unblushingly asserted that what he had preached
about marriage only showed the order in ancient days, having
nothing to do with the present time. In regard to the alleged
revelation about polygamy he explained that, on inquiring of the
Lord concerning the Scriptural teaching that "they neither marry
nor are given in marriage in heaven," he received a reply to the
effect that men in this life must marry in one of eternity,
otherwise they must remain as angels, or be single in heaven.

Book of the day: